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30 March 2017 @ 03:39 pm
Game Review: Kirby Super Star  
This is my favorite Kirby game!

I haven't played that many Kirby games, admittedly. Just this, Kirby's Adventure, and maybe five minutes of the original Kirby's Dream Land. But of those three, Kirby Super Star is definitely the winner. It doesn't have the complexity of Kirby's Adventure's wide levels and multiple secrets, or the simplicity of Kirby's Dreamland...but then again, in a way it has both. The real strength of Kirby Super Star is that it contains multitudes. It's structured as a series of smaller games, each of which is played and beaten individually. The first, "Spring Breeze," is a remake of Kirby's Dream Land, and the only one where King Dedede is the enemy. Another one, "The Great Cave Offensive," replicates Kirby's Adventure with its poking around every nook and cranny and using Kirby's various power-ups to unlock secrets through the medium of a treasure hunt. That's just two of the available games.

And, in perhaps the best part of the game, it's multiplayer.

Riding together.  photo emot-glomp.gif

This is the second time I've played it all the way through after my first time playing it with greyselkie in university. She liked it for much the same reason that softlykarou likes it now--it's low stress for the non-Kirby player, Kirby is really cute, and there's a wide variety of stuff to do and shapes to adopt.
softlykarou's Comments:
"My biggest worry when gaming with dorchadas is my poor performance ruining the game for him. I'm alright at videogames but tend to get a bit too excited and make silly mistakes that lead to death. Kirby is much less stress and i can just enjoy the ride instead of being upset with myself when I make mistakes."
As I mentioned, it's multiplayer. The first player controls Kirby and the second player controls the "helper," who can be any of the possible powers that Kirby can adopt through his swallowing mechanic. After adopting a power, Kirby extrudes a helper, which is either CPU-controlled or controlled by the second player. A life is only lost if Kirby dies, so the second player can be as reckless as they want and all it does is cost a little time to hunt down a new power or require Kirby to give up his existing power to create a new helper. And that's good, because while the system is overall pretty good, if the helper gets too far away from Kirby for too long, they lose all their health and start exploding. It's possible for Kirby to heal his helper if he picks up a health item and then touches them--where he transfers the health by kissing the helper, this game is so cute--or by discarding his current powerup and allowing the helper to pick it up, which changes them into the new powerup. But otherwise, they explode.

There was a lot of exploding when we played through, because while the helper can teleport to Kirby at any time, it's not always reliable if they're off the screen. The screen is always centered on Kirby and sometimes the helper can't quite keep up with Kirby's flying. But any helper death is fixed in a few seconds, and Kirby games are generally not particularly hard in any case. It's a relaxing co-op game.

This looks familiar...

In addition to the "The Great Cave Offensive" and "Spring Breeze," there are several other game modes. In "Dyna Blade," Kirby must stop Dyna Blade from doing something nefarious--I was never really clear on what--to Dream Land, and the game has a world map with Kirby moving from level to level, secret levels, and even a wandering mini-boss that Kirby can defeat. "Gourmet Race" is more like a minigame than an entire game mode and is the only major section that isn't two player. It just involves Kirby racing King Dedede across a field while eating as much food as possible along the way. "Revenge of Meta Knight" is a narrative-based game mode where Kirby is attacking Meta Knight's ship and involves destroying different sections from the ship and running commentary from the ship's crew about Kirby's performance. Strangely, it seems more like revenge against Meta Knight since they're just sailing through the skies of Dream Land when Kirby attacks them without provocation...  photo Kirby_Shake_WaddleDee_Emoticon_by_D.gif

The final game mode is "Milky Way Wishes," where Kirby travels from planet to planet to stop the sun and the moon from fighting through restoring the powers of NOVA, which can grant wishes. Unlike the other Kirby games, swallowing enemies doesn't do anything at all except defeat them. Instead, Kirby has to find the power ups in each level, and once a power up is found, Kirby can transform into it at any time. This was softlykarou's favorite game because there was even less stress than any of the other game modes. Not only could I instantly replace her whenever the helper died, but she could pick whatever power she wanted instead of being limited to whatever Kirby had or what was nearby at the time she died. That meant that she spent most of the game as Waddle Doo, her second-favorite enemy in the game. I spent most of as Kirby the mad bomber except when hammer or wheel were more useful.

We did run into a problem where we got stuck and had to restart the game, though. I did the first planet of "Milky Way Wishes" and didn't find the power up inside, and then when I got to the second planet I needed that powerup to progress, didn't have it, and couldn't figure out how to leave the world. I'm sure I was missing something, and we only ran into it once, but it happened.
softlykarou's Comments:
"I loved the amount of choice Milky Way Wishes gave me, and it encouraged me to be even more reckless! There were moments when I got frustrated (stop pushing on me, wind!) And Waddle Doo is my second favorite because of the range beam and that his flight is almost as good as Kirby's, which lets me feel like I'm keeping up better."

I'm pretty sure I was lost here.

My favorite was "The Great Cave Offensive" because it was basically a metroidvania game. Kirby descends into a mysterious cave and has to find a bunch of treasures, about half of which are references to other Nintendo games like the aforementioned Falcon Helmet, the Triforce, Mr. Saturn, the Zebra Mask, or the Screw Ball. Some of these treasures are out in the open, but a lot of them require tracking down certain powerup and then following a set of steps to locate. I didn't put in all the effort to track down every single treasure since I was playing for fun with softlykarou, but I did it with greyselke when I played it long ago. It's exactly the kind of collecting challenge that triggers my instinct to make number go up, the way that achievements in World of Warcraft had a grip on me for so long.

My second-favorite is probably "Spring Breeze," partially because of its simplicity and partially because of its environments. A lot of other games take place in mechanical, space, or underground environments, where the bright and cheerful nature of Kirby games doesn't really have a chance to shine through. "Spring Breeze" and "Dyna Blade" mostly take place in outdoor environments, so there's green...uh, greens, brilliant blue waters, colorful fruit for Kirby and his helper to eat, and rainbows and stars everywhere. It's that kind of bubbly cheerfulness that makes the Kirby games so great.

Kirby's in a pickle!

It also contributes to their relaxing feel. One common complaint about the Kirby games is that they're too easy, to the point of sometimes basically playing themselves. You'd think that might annoy me, since I do things like mod Baldur's Gate II with Sword Coast Stratagems to make sure it's hard enough, but that itself explains why I like the Kirby games. They are hard, but it's progressive difficulty.

Like here, just getting through all the levels is not hard at all, especially with an endlessly respawning helper who can take on most of the risks. The bosses occasionally caused troubles, but we weren't stuck on them for longer than a couple attempts. The real difficulty would be solving all the puzzles and tracking down all the treasures in "The Great Cave Offensive," or all the transformations in "Milky Way Wishes," just like the real difficulty was opening up all the map areas in Kirby's Adventure. It's not required and there's no special prize for doing so, it's just a challenge set for the player by themselves that they can finish if they want. For a game like this that's adopted the niche of cute, fun, and relaxing, that's the best way to present difficulty. It's available for people who want it, and there's no pressure for the people who don't.

The only score that matters.

It's that relaxing nature that makes it a perfect game to play with softlykarou. There are games we play that require careful thought and tactical planning, like Divinity: Original Sin, or which require puzzle solving like Dare to Dream. Kirby doesn't require either, like Super Mario Galaxy, and that makes it a great game to play together on lazy afternoons when we're both off from work. Relaxing cuteness is a valid and worthy game design goal, and honestly, something we'll probably need more and more of in the coming years.  photo wheeeeee_emote_by_seiorai.gif
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: Brandon Strader, halc - Kirb Your Enthusiasm (Mallow Castle)